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 An innovative new way for audiences to interact with BBC News is available to try with the African-designed pilot: “BBC Newschatta.

BBC Newschatta is a chatbot developed by Nigerian technology company Codulab. This chatbot is a service for mobile phones which generates news stories based on the users’ input, using keywords and topics to send relevant news stories to them via the WeChat Messenger app.

 

This pilot was developed following an open submission process by BBC Connected Studio and the BBC World Service at an event in Lagos in February 2016.  Similar events have previously taken place in Kenya and South Africa, from which ideas have been developed into live products.

 

A second pilot idea from the Lagos brief was also selected to go into development – named “Timerail”. The idea is to curate big news stories using multiple sources, which can then be presented to users with a compelling mix of content navigable by time and relevance. Nigerian company, Isoventurian, designed the user experience for this pilot, and user research has led to more targeted clustering of tagged content. A working prototype is expected later this year.

Dmitry Shishkin, BBC Digital Editor, World Service Languages, says: “BBC World Service continues to harnesses local tech expertise in Africa that allows us to keep innovating with new formats, platforms and content distribution models, specifically targeted at young audiences through mobile. Before coming to Nigeria we successfully collaborated with tech hubs and start-ups in Kenya and South Africa, bringing live products from both locations, and I am thrilled that the trend continues in Lagos. Given the massive editorial investments that the BBC is making in Africa, it’s important that digital innovation is a crucial part in that process.”

Stanley Ojadovwa, Product Developer at Codulab, adds: “Newschatta is a chatbot that provides news content in a more personalised manner to young people across Africa. The aim is to deliver the latest news contents to users in a timely and interesting way that fits into the users’ current daily digital routines. Newschatta is targeted at young people in Africa aged between 16 and 34, living in urban areas. This audience has a high mobile use, not just for calls and social networking purposes, but for other aspects of their life such as emailing, banking, playing games and reading news.”

These collaborations form part of the BBC’s objective of increasing its global audience to 500 million by 2020. Similar briefs have been launched across Africa and Asia, with new services and tools having been launched and others currently in development. Recent BBC chatbot activity included a Newsbot from Spanish-language service BBC Mundo, which allows users to find and share BBC news content in an easy to use and appealing way.  

How does it look?

 

What does it look like?

Users select topics or keywords via the WeChat Messenger App and will then see curated news stories based on these choices for them to read and share.

What is the best thing about Newschatta?

This tailored content and app make for a cost-effective way for users to be served global news, sport and entertainment content. The target audience are young Africans, and the bot makes use of the existing platforms they are used to.

Technical stuff:

Newschatta can be accessed around the world. As well as being accessed through WeChat, the app collects news content from across the BBC. The aggregation and tagging is made possible using BBC Juicer – a tool created by BBC News Labs, which takes in news sources from across the globe and automatically tags specific topics. 

Kenneth Omeruo
Omeruo Ndukaku Kenneth is an Innovation Management expert,the CEO of Emerging Media,a new media company.He is a member of ISPIM - International Society for Professional Innovation Management and the US-Africa chamber of Commerce.He is the Founder of TechTrends Nigeria Blog,Nigeria Innovation Summit and the African Innovation Academy.Kenneth is a highly sought-after Internet Marketing Consultant who has through his seminars, articles, training and consulting, helped many organizations, Individuals, Businesses maximize the Internet for business purposes.Kenneth has also being featured as a guest on the TV show TODAY ON STV Nigeria and on Bloomberg Africa TV.He is the author of the best –selling Internet Book: How To Create Unlimited Internet Wealth. He is a syndicated columnist with the following Newspapers in Nigeria: Daily Independent, Financial Standard, PUNCH, BusinessDay, and Sun.Kenneth organises the EduNet Conference for Universities in Nigeria. Kenneth is a member of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria( ISPON ) Roundtable For Capacity Development in Nigeria,member pre-selection committee for Nigeria at the UN World Summit Awards,a Panelist for Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria(YouWIN)-a Federal government initiative created by the ministry of finance,supported by ministries of Communications Technology,Youth Development,Worldbank and DFID. A 2013 Judge at the Google Cloud Developers Challenge for Sub Saharan Africa.He has been a contributing editor of Nigeria Communications Week,Africa Telecom and IT Business Magazine,ICT Today magazine,M2 magazine.Kenneth has been invited to the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum, Oracle Open World Conference USA, Oracle Cloud World Dubai, and GITEX Dubai. He now lives in New York with his family and presently working on an Open Innovation project for Nigeria. You can contact Kenneth through email: (kenneth (at)techtrendsng.com) Facebook:www.facebook.com/Kenneth.omeruo On Twitter:www.twitter.com/kennethomeruo Skpe:Kenneth.Omeruo

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